Michael Jackson farewell brings LA to a standstill

Author: By Tom Morgan, Press Association

As motorways were closed across Los Angeles to allow the Jackson family to
travel in cavalcade to his private funeral service at the Forest Lawn
Cemetery, it emerged the King of Pop’s coffin would take centre stage at the
star-studded memorial service.

The service at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles is expected to reach an
audience of billions as music stars and a former Britain’s Got Talent
contestant perform at the public farewell.

Police blocked off roads and warned those without tickets to stay away because
they would not be able to get close to the centre as an invasion of British
fans arrived in California.

As many as 700,000 people are feared to have tried to reach the arena.

CNN.com said the tribute, under the global media spotlight, was to be “one
of the most-viewed events of all time”.

Welsh schoolboy Shaheen Jafargholi, a finalist on the British TV talent show,
was in the line-up alongside major stars including Lionel Richie, Mariah
Carey and Stevie Wonder.

But Hollywood star Dame Elizabeth Taylor revealed she had snubbed the event.

The Oscar-winning actress, a long-term friend of Jackson’s, wrote on Twitter: “I
said I wouldn’t go to the Staples Centre and I certainly don’t want to
become a part of it. I love him too much.

“I just don’t believe that Michael would want me to share my grief with
millions of others. How I feel is between us. Not a public event.

“And I cannot guarantee that I would be coherent to say a word.

Revealing she had been asked to speak at the service, she said: “I cannot
be part of the public whoopla.”

Basketball hero Magic Johnson, singer Usher, Smokey Robinson, Brooke Shields
and Jennifer Hudson were due to participate in the event, the Jackson family
said in a statement.

The city of Los Angeles has asked Jackson’s family for financial help to deal
with the cost of coping with the ceremony.

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